Everyone talks about driving change, often behind the mask of related verbs & nouns: to improve, develop, optimize, create, move forward, progress, taking risks, transformation, difference, innovation. If change is apparently linked to so many of these positive processes and outcomes, why is it then such a challenge for many people (private change) and organizations (business transformation) to execute it?
The simple answer is that even the most obviously easy and straightforward changes require good planning and tackling of the below obstacles.
Fear that driving change would create a crisis
What if I jeopardize my current situation?
Getting the courage, drive and initiative for leaving our comfort zone is the starting barrier, since many would perceive the change as a danger, threat or inconvenience, instead of opportunity for improvement. This is sometimes the reason why people are not willing to openly embrace changes.
How to get out of the routine and move our mindset from “darkness” to “light”?
I have learned that making mistakes during any change process does not move me any steps backwards. This is so, because I always have the perspective that these are like a trampoline for me – they help me figure out what to make differently and which direction to take next. They make the process fascinating! That is how I discover new approaches, ask for help, establish connections, and learn, helping me move forward as a result. That is why I do not have the fear that a change would lead to a crisis. Trial and error is part of the development process, and we should learn to be comfortable with it.
Lack of Motivation
Why change when things are “fine” the way they are?
“Things” may be well working “fine” now, but if there is no development, “things” will most likely not be “fine” in some years time. Any situation that is left unchanged/unmoved/static, call it as you wish, for a longer time, might become redundant, dusty, insufficient, and, not to sound too financial, but in a way can also depreciate. We need to make change work for us, and not against us. We need to be proactive instead of reactive, and analyse our environment in order to have an accurate perception that would enable us to understand whether the way “we do things now” needs an update. Whether it is to stay relevant in a marketplace or be the best version of ourselves, we need to proactively scan our environment and decide if change is something we need now.
Most of the major benefits of change take time, and thus also take patience. Therefore, the lack of evident, “significant enough” short-term gains should not come as a discouragement. In order to enhance our motivation and sustain it over the long run we might need to reconsider what is “significant enough” and adjust it to our reality, enabling us to celebrate our mini-milestones along the way.
What is the benefit for me? Where is this really going to lead to?
If these two questions are not answered, then the change process hits a dead end.
Start with the end – what is it we want to achieve? What is the desired outcome?
Having these figured out and in place creates the strongest empowerment and guide for direction.
What are the hidden problems we may face?
Try to think of all the possible obstacles that can hinder or delay the progress. Have an alternative and an “emergency” plan. Changes are full of surprises and you cannot possibly have the answers to everything, but the more prepared you are for difficulties, the better you would be able to deal with hidden problems and gaps that can emerge in the process.
What is happening and what is this all about? Is anything at jeopardy?
In a corporate setting, creating transparency, together with a clear vision, is in my opinion the most important phase of a change process. Be frank about the short-term sacrifices, clear about the expectations, and open about setting priorities, tasks and roles. Communication is, needless to say, the key driver here.
In a nutshell, the process of successfully driving change needs to be fueled by drive, patience, planning, a can-do attitude, sense & meaning, clear vision and transparency.
So, are you up for a change?